Sunday, August 14, 2016

Musée de la Mode

Every Saturday afternoon in July and August, the Montreal Museum of Costume and Textiles is presenting a hands-on demo of indigo shibori dyeing, directed at those who are new to the subject.

I visited the museum recently to catch the show Parcours d'une élégante, an exhibition which showcases the wardrobe of Montrealer Beatrice Pearson, born in the late 1930's to Italian immigrants. Her mother and grandmother were accomplished seamstresses, and so began a lifelong interest in fashion. Pearson has donated more than 550 items of clothing and accessories to the museum, some of them made by famous designers, others by topnotch dressmakers or by Pearson herself. Still other garments were found in thrift shops by Pearson, who enjoys the "thrill of the hunt".

Four outfits designed by Issey Miyake,
each featuring fabric made from pleated polyester

One of Pearson's favourite designers is the Japanese Issey Miyake. Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake is known for his use of pleated textiles. Says Wikipedia,
"In the late 1980s, he began to experiment with new methods of pleating that would allow both flexibility of movement for the wearer as well as ease of care and production. ... The garments are cut and sewn first, then sandwiched between layers of paper and fed into a heat press, where they are pleated. The fabric's 'memory' holds the pleats and when the garments are liberated from their paper cocoon, they are ready-to wear."

detail of fabric used in dress, third from left, above

A variation on this technique produced an intriguingly crumpled Miyake skirt.

skirt by Issey Miyake

skirt by Issey Miyake, detail

Here's another interesting design, sort of a trompe-l'oeil: 

Dress by label Comme des Garçons

Notice the hand-like shapes, stitched and stuffed to give them a realistic dimension.

I have seen several museum-quality shows of particular designers, but this show is different in that it focuses on the collection of an individual fashion enthusiast, who bought clothes from many designers. Her passion for textiles and design was shaped by a thorough education on the subject and by an openness to other cultures. Pearson spent two years in Hong Kong and two years in China, and many of the pieces on display show the influence of these experiences on her collection.

Not a blockbuster show by any means but, with over 300 items on display, including jewelry, hats and dozens of pairs of shoes, it's worth a visit if you're in the Old Port area of Montreal. The show closes August 28, 2016.

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